Nobody is calling January’s vehicle sales robust, but they were promising, even with Toyota’s ongoing recall troubles.
The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Selling rate of 10.8 million did not exactly rate cheers. However, it still beat the estimates of most analysts and prompted General Motors Company to raise its 2010 forecast to between 11.5 million and 12 million units.
In fact, several brands, GM, Ford, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Audi all posted increases of better than 20% and the increases at VW and Mercedes topped 40% over what was an admittedly dismal previous January. Nissan posted a 16% increase, while BMW, Honda and Mazda all reported sales increases in the single digits and Kia’s sales were flat. Chrysler’s sales declines moderated, as sales dropped 8% and Mitsubishi’s sales dropped 4 percent.
The biggest loser, by far, was Toyota where sales dropped 16%, partially because of a government prompted stop sale of eight models. Ward’s Automotive Reports calculated that Toyota sales had dropped in January to the lowest level since 1999 just before the company embarked on its broad expansion plan that by last year had made Toyota the best-selling brand in the U.S. However, in January, Toyota was bested by both Chevrolet and Ford.